When I was a young girl, a bird flew into the kitchen window. It fell to the ground unconscious and I thought it was dead. I picked up the lifeless bird and held it between my two hands very gently, willing my good intention from one palm to the other and through the bird. Shortly after the bird came to and I believed I had healed it. As I look back it seems I was destined to be a massage therapist.
In my training we learned many examples of the power and value of touch. The story that always comes to mind on this topic was a sad tale of babies passing away inexplicably in a busy orphanage. Due to the the volume of infants, care was limited to bare necessities and although provided with food, water and warmth the children failed to thrive. It was discovered that without touch, the babies would die.
Physical touch may also decrease disease, studies have shown that people who receive hugs have lower blood pressure and a strengthened immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and disease free.
We touch to initiate and sustain cooperation. Hugs or handshakes are likely to cause the release of the neurotransmitter Oxytocin (aka “the love hormone”), which is responsible for the sensation of increased human connection.
Touch has also been linked to decreased violence. Psychologist James W. Prescott proposed that the origins of violence in society were related to the lack of mother-child bonding. Child developmental research illustrates that the absence of physical bonding and healthy attachment between an adult and child may result in lifelong emotional disturbances.
With all this great information on the benefits of touch, you can rest easy during your massage knowing that in addition to reducing your stress and physical tension you are strengthening your immune health and becoming a “better person”.